Journey to Publication

I subbed a manuscript for the first time in a year on Monday. It’s been a long, hard year…but that’s a different story. Anyway, this made me think back on how far I have come in the five years since I started writing, and how some things never change.

For the things that hasn’t changed:

I still hate hitting the send button. It seriously is the most traumatizing part of the process for me. After I have the submission package ready to send, it’s showdown time. I stare at the button, and it stares at me. I wiggle my fingers at my sides as the theme music to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly plays in the room and a tumbleweed rolls between us—not really, lol, but that is exactly how I feel. The moment is intense. My heart is pumping, stomach churning, sweaty palms, the whole freaking nine yards. To this day, I still have to position the curser over the button, close my eyes, take a deep breath and click the mouse. When I open my eyes and see the your-message-has-been-sent notification, the oh-craps start. Oh crap, it wasn’t ready. Oh crap, I should have read through it one more time. Oh crap, the changes I made suck.

The wait never gets any easier either. The obsessive checking of my email started two minutes after I sent it. How stupid is that? Two minutes? It’s like my brain believes I can Jedi mind trick my editor into immediately believing ‘this is the story your looking for’ without even opening the dang doc. Now it’d be cool as hell if it worked that way, but it doesn’t. So what screwed up portion of my mind makes me obsessively check my email when I KNOW I’m in for a wait?

Rejections still suck, as does the anticipation of a rejection. Cause let me tell you something, just because you’ve become published, it doesn’t mean everything you write afterwards will sell. Sad truth.

Now for the things that have changed:

I much more confident in my writing. I’m not talking I am the queen of writing and everyone will love every book I put out kind of confidence—even after a contract is offered I deal with the everyone-will-hate-it blues. The confidence I’m talking about is more the writing aspect of it. There was a point, only a couple of years ago, that if I made the slightest change, I had to have my CP’s look over it. Seriously. Slightest change. Now I save my bothering of them for more meatier revisions.

You will get bad reviews. They used to bug the hell out of me, and I won’t lie, there’s still a definite ouch-factor when I get one, but I can let it go much more easily than I could in the beginning. If one is especially harsh, and I’ve had my fair share of those, I’ll go back and read reviewers who liked my story to help take out the sting.

The more you write the better writer you’ll become. I pulled out an oldie a few weeks ago. As I read the story, which was cringe-worthy, I was stunned at how much I have grown. Years later, I can look back at some of my older writing and I know why it’s still sitting on my hard drive and not on a publisher’s website. The awesome thing about now is I can fix it. I sold The Panther’s Lair that way. Man, was that story horrible when I pulled it back out three years later. Hor-ri-ble. I spent six weeks doing a total re-write of the story, and I sold it. So don’t think just because something isn’t selling in the beginning of your writing journey that years down the road, it won’t. You just need a little more know-how to help fine tune and spiff-up the submission.

In all, the writing journey is hard, even after publication. If for a minute, you think you can write something and it will sale, you’re in for a rude awakening. Now granted there have been authors that sold the first thing they ever wrote, I acknowledge that, but it’s not the norm. It’s a struggle. But let me tell you, even through all the tears and rejections, writing has been the second most satisfying things I’ve ever done—having my kids being the first. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

So good luck to all of you! I’m wishing everyone a happy and long writing career!

Esme

On The Way to NYC
As you read this, I will be riding a train to New York City for the Romance Writers of America's annual conference. I've only travelled once by train before, but it wasn't as long a trip as this will be. My hubby the train buff is actually disappointed he's not going with me. We'll have to plan another trip sometime.

It's over 8 hours by train from Buffalo to NYC, which seems like a lot of time riding the rails. I'm travelling with some friends from the Western NY Romance Writers chapter, so I'm sure there will be lots of writing talk, both on the way to conference and coming back home. I'll also have my netbook and Kindle with me, so if we ever want to rest our vocal chords, I won't lack for things to do.

I'm looking forward to some interesting workshops in NY, inspiring discussions, and the chance to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. I don't have any agent or editor appointments, as I generally suck at them. But who knows what might happen over the next few days. I plan to take a lot of pictures and will share some of them, and possibly some interesting stories, with you next week after I get back home.

So I'm off to pack. Who else will be at National this week?

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
Bicycling in Amsterdam
What is the most common mode of transportation in Amsterdam? If you looked at the picture, you know the answer. A bicycle.

As a city reclaimed from the ocean, Amsterdam is totally flat. Therefore, bicycling is easy, and everyone does it. You will see chic ladies in high heels and skirts, businessmen in suits and ties, senior citizens, and kids of all ages, including teens in social groups.

The authorities have encouraged the practice by building bike paths everywhere there is a road. Bicyclists also have the right of way over anyone else, including pedestrians. Which means walking can be hazardous. Each road consists of the car roadway, a paved bike path, and a sidewalk. Major streets also include tram tracks. Oftentimes, all these things are on the same level, with little to mark one lane from a different one, not even a curb.

Whatever method you are using to get around, you need to be very careful as people and cars come from all directions. Not to mention the scooters, which as far as I can tell are allowed on any surface they can find. Cars often park on the sidewalks, which forces pedestrians onto the bike path, and bicyclists will not be happy to see you there.
Notice the child in the box on the picture above. To his right is another child on his own bike. It is common to see a mom moving her children around this way. Or here's an alternative method. Ride on the back.

 
Even adults ride on the back. I loved this shot of an older couple. The woman is pedaling along and the well-dressed man is enjoying the ride.


You will see people carrying umbrellas, texting, talking on their phones.

If you are observant, you will have noticed one unusual fact about bicyclists in the Netherlands (versus the US). No one is wearing a helmet. No one. I never saw a single helmet on a bicyclist in Amsterdam. Not even toddlers in the little boxes attached to the front. (See note below.) But I did see my first bicycle garage.
The bike garage is right over a canal. How cool is that?

Note re bicycle accidents: Amsterdam is a very safe city traffic-wise. Approximately 200 people per year die in bike accidents in The Netherlands, with an average of only 6 per year in Amsterdam. http://www.tobysterling.net/2007/12/bike-accident-deaths-in-amsterdam-and.html
Death in traffic accidents overall is the lowest in Europe at 45 deaths per million inhabitants per year vs. the comparable US rate of 147 deaths per million and the European rate of 90 deaths per million. (credit Toby Sterling). So I guess that's why they don't feel the need for helmets.
Guest: Eliza Knight + Book Giveaway!


The Difference Between Porn, Erotica, Erotic Romance and Romance
By Eliza Knight

I’m going to be daring today and talk about sex, sex scenes and the written word. There are varying stages of sex in writing, and for authors, it is sometimes hard to know which line you’ve crossed or uncrossed. Where do you fit in the scheme of things?

It all depends on the sex and the plot.

Here are my definitions:

Porn—Pornography’s goal is to elicit a sexual response from the audience. To turn you on. To ramp up the synergy in the bedroom, or to do something you may consider risqué. While a pornographic novel or movie may or may not have a specific plot, the end result should be you feeling randy. Very graphic in nature. May include kink, fetishes, taboo sexuality, multiple partners.

Erotica—The focus of erotica is on the sexual journey of the main character in the story. While the sensuality of the story can turn you on—there is also a deeply focused plot. The main plot follows a character as they grow sexually. There is a GMC. There isn’t necessarily a happily-ever-after or happy-for-now, as the focus is not a relationship but on the sexuality of the main character. Graphic language and graphic scenes. May include kink, fetishes, taboo sexuality, multiple partners.

Erotic Romance—Erotic romance focuses on the relationship between two people (or sometimes more). They grow and change together. There is a GMC and there is either a happily-ever-after or at least a happy-for-now. You may say this sounds a lot like a romance, and that is because it IS a romance. What is the difference between a romance and an erotic romance? The language and the sexual activity. More graphic language, ie, the “c” word. More graphic sex. Your characters can get really down and dirty, explore their sexuality together. More kink, fetishes, taboo sexuality, multiple partners—but it doesn’t have to include these last bits. The main difference between erotic romance and regular romance is the graphic nature—like Rated R vs. Mature Audiences Only. (and yes, the sex scenes may turn you on.)

Romance—A romance focuses on the relationship between two people. That is the main focus of the story. Sexuality varies from very sweet (maybe hand-holding) to Rated R—sizzling HOT. While there are sub-plots etc… the story is all about the h/h and how they will get together. The characters have concrete GMCs. In the end, there is a happily-ever-after or at least a happy-for-now. (Once again, the sex scenes may have you reaching for your sig other or taking the single road to happy land.)

You see in all my descriptions I talked about how the story can make you feel sexually—it’s true, there’s no doubt about it. The biggest difference between all of these you will see are the focus of the story, and the graphic nature.

I personally write romance and erotic romance, and I have varying degrees of sexuality in all of my stories, some of them are XXX hot and some of them are more on the sizzling spectrum, but all in all, every story I write has a concrete plot and is character/relationship driven.

There is nothing wrong with porn or erotica, hell it’s a fine line between them all! (And I enjoy them all too). But, if someone says to me, “oh, you write porn,” that will get my knickers in a twist faster than if my husband complains about the laundry.  I do NOT write porn. I write romance, no matter how sexy, hot or graphic it is, my stories are all about love, and how two people fall in love, and express that love through making love (and doin’ it well, I might add J)

My release this week—A PIRATE’S BOUNTY, is a lot more hard-core than any of the other stories I’ve written, hence the “Reader Advisory”, but that being said, it is still a love story, and I had a blast figuring out how to get Wraith and Faryn together.

My other new release, A LADY’S CHARADE, is not considered erotic romance, but it is sizzling, and boy do Alexander and Chloe put up a fight!

Answer my question for a chance to win a copy of BOTH of my new releases! (one winner) 
What makes a book a Keeper for you?




 Eliza Knight is a multi-published author of historical romance and erotic romance. Her releases this summer include: A LADY’S CHARADE, a medieval romance, and A PIRATE’S BOUNTY, a historical pirate erotic romance. Visit Eliza at www.elizaknight.com

A PIRATE’S BOUNTY – Now Available at Ellora’s Cave!

1764. When Faryn is captured by the mysterious and sensual dread pirate Captain Wraith Noir, who delivers her as a slave to the flesh-hungry court of the pirate queen, she expects her future will be bleak and death imminent. Lucky for Faryn, Wraith doesn’t plan for that to be her end, as he wants her for his own.

Duty, desire, passion, revenge and treachery besiege Faryn and Wraith. With the future uncertain,  only fate, love and the truth will set them both free.

Reader Advisory: Contains a heroine experiencing the diverse pleasures of a pirate queen’s court, including f/f touching and scorching public sex, as well as mentions of traditional pirating endeavors.

An Excerpt From: A PIRATE’S BOUNTY

Copyright © ELIZA KNIGHT, 2011

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

The Coast of the Greek Isles, 1764

The crack of the whip stung as it struck the flesh of Faryn’s bare buttocks. She bit hard on the inside of her cheek, refusing to cry out as she knew the crew liked to hear. She would not try to jump overboard again.

Metal clanked against the masts as men shouted, “Heave! Ho!” to get the sails down now that they’d come into port. Instead of a white sail flying prominently against the mainmast, this ship’s sail was a flag. Large and intrusive, its image would shake any ship or person who neared it. Eerie wisps of clouds dusted the night sky, and the large silvery moon shone in flashes on the design, which sent an involuntary shudder through her now, just as it always did. Against the wide black backdrop, sewn in white, a large skull, and beneath it two silver swords crisscrossed. Below that was clearly an image in white of the top half of a man, well-muscled, who held the two swords.

“School your hands, mate! Orelia will not be pleased that you marred the flesh of one of her slaves.” The voice was filled with authority, and though he spoke English, she noted a slight undertone of French, something she ought to remember as he could prove to be an ally, but as soon as the thought entered her mind it was quickly gone again.

Slave.

The word echoed in Faryn’s mind over and over in tune to the throb of the welt on her flesh. She looked around with glazed eyes. A rough crew this was. Weapons covered their bodies, some crude, some elegant—and so very out of place, with their rough clothing. They smiled, some with teeth and some without. They leered at her with one or two eyes, some covered with a patch. Some grabbed at their crotches and waggled what little bits of male flesh hid beneath the layers of grubby breeches. Except for one. The captain. He stood out—dark, mysterious, large and eerily handsome. A cut above the rest.

Slave. Slave. Slave.

This was why they’d taken her in the middle of the night. She cursed her sleeplessness and need to walk on the beach that dreadful evening. They’d ripped her from everything she knew, tied her hands behind her back, tossed her over their shoulders and disappeared into the fog. She would be slave to Orelia. But who was Orelia? She’d never heard the name before now.

“Avast, ye wretches, down ye go, else prepare to feed the fish!” a man shouted, as he hobbled up and down the line of slaves on one foot and a wooden pegleg.

The captain’s gaze held hers, catching her breath in her throat. She was frightened…yet another feeling had her belly twisting into knots. Without taking his gaze from hers, he flicked his hand toward her and sliced through the rope tying her arms around the mast. He jerked his head toward the other gangplank and Faryn hurried to line up with the other beaten and naked men and women who would serve as slaves to the mysterious Orelia, eager to have her feet walk on steady ground again. They’d traveled far, she was sure. And as she stepped down the gangplank, splinters sinking into the tender flesh of her feet, she was hit with the knowledge that escape would not come easy.

Ocean stretched far and wide. The sounds of water crashing against the shore, and the scents of salt and ocean surrounded her. Loud voices shouted all around her, mixed with the creaking of boards, boot heels clicking on wood and other ship sounds. From the dock came people, she could barely make them out with only the small lanterns they carried. Naked bodies trembled and wobbled down the planks in front of her. She was delirious from hunger and pain. Cold and wet.

Gooseflesh rose along her limbs, her nipples were hard and stung as her hair whipped violently against her chest.

She cried out and lost her footing. Arms flung out, she sought hold of anything, her hands catching the slippery back of another slave, who jumped forward at her touch. Her knees dropped to the wood of the gangplank.

“Get up!” shouted one of the men wielding a whip. But she could not. She was so weak…too tired. Her vision blurred.

“That one won’t make it. Captain, ye want her back? Might be best to toss her to the sharks.”
___


Yikes! Fantastic cliffhanger! I can't wait to read this! 

Remember to leave a comment for your chance to win Eliza's wonderful hot books!!

Thanks!
Nicole
Please join us in welcoming author Sharon Hamilton today.
When I was a full time business coach, I used to tell my customers, you must be easy to start and hard to stop. Everyone thinks they start from way behind the curve. They've procrastinated and now when they have to start, they have to work through all the debilitating emotions of frustration and discouragement, before they can even begin their project.

And then there were those who wanted it all today, wanted to catch up in one sitting, who were so anxious to make headway, they too had to battle the range of emotions and frustrations that they felt held them back, due to their impatience. I often have that form of "startitis" - in fact, it used to plague me whenever I'd start a new diet. And the worrying over whether or not I would stick to it long enough to have results would overcome me and by 10 o'clock, the diet was blown. And then it makes it harder to start again.

But starting is just that, starting all over. My opinion is that it's 80% of the battle, just beginning. If I can put out of my mind all the other little self-talk that is unproductive and just plain not true in many cases, I can get that big locomotive fired up and begin my new project. By "new" it could mean writing new or editing. Whatever the project.

I used to use the illustration of getting a big locomotive running. It doesn't matter how hard we press on the pedal on that big engine. The thing will accelerate at a certain speed no matter what. If we've floored it and really jumped on the pedal (they probably don't even have one, but I use it for illustration), that big machine would only go so fast in such a period of time. The extra effort on our part is irrelevant.

On the other hand, there's this little thing called Momentum that begins once we are sailing down the rails. The weight of the machine and the forward motion help propel us further, even if we should temporarily take our foot off the pedal.

And that's where people have the hardest time. After they start, they get some success, and do happy dancing all over the room, and then forget to get back to work. I'd have business leaders achieve a windfall month of profits and then take the rest of the year off, and wind up behind what they did the year before. We used to say that earning a huge commission check was the surest detriment to many people succeeding. Just ask lottery winners. They'll tell you.

The magic happens in the not stopping. Notice there is no mention of talent. We all want to be so talented someone will come along and give us millions of dollars for that screen play, that novel, but in fact, the world doesn't operate like that. Somehow, even though others have struggled, our path will be smooth and easy.

You will have a ten times better chance of dying in a commercial plane crash than winning the lottery. Chances someone will pay you $1M for your book? I'd say even less.

What about you? What do you do to get yourself started? How do you keep your momentum fired up?

Sharon Hamilton lives in Sonoma County, California, with her husband, 60 chickens, 100 koi and the 2 Dobermans who want to eat them all. An organic gardener for over 35 years, Sharon tends her vegetable and flower gardens when she is not writing or going to RWA meetings. She’s a member of 4 local chapters, as well as numerous online groups.

She writes paranormal romance, about angels, dark angels and some vamps, even some new species: Upogenie. Her stories follow the rocky road to redemption, but not exactly what you’ve been taught in Sunday School. Like, did you know angels don’t wear panties and have sex?

Sharon's first novel, Angel, is newly released. Here's the blurb:

An unconventional and fiercely independent Guardian angel, Claire, is sent to save the life of a talented but tormented Brazilian-born painter, Daniel DePalma, preyed upon by a powerful Dark angel. Although warned , this Dark angel has a special appetite for Guardians, and when Claire and Daniel become lovers, violating all of Heaven’s rules, he offers the pair a chance to stay together forever by turning to the dark side. Will their love succumb to temptation to make a deal with the devil or spend eternity forever separated?

Here's an excerpt for Angel:

Truth was, she usually liked to shower with her charges, but it was not the recommended way. She would give him a little more distance tonight; let him show her his dreams and the true source of his torment. Her instincts told her to be cautious. Something in her internal radar was bleeping off the charts.

She inched her way closer so she could smell the shower gel he used. She leaned against the wall, letting the lemony steam cover her invisible but sensitive angel flesh. She closed her eyes and listened to him reprimanding himself in Portuguese. It wasn’t important to have a word-for-word translation; she understood perfectly what he was saying. The way the sounds rolled off his tongue and the deep resonance of his voice was soothing. She knew in that instant that she could save him. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to live. He was fighting with himself, and right now that was a good thing.

She was still daydreaming when the water stopped and he reached for the towel located on the wall Claire was leaning against. His hands went through her shoulders to grip the blue terrycloth hanging there. She didn’t move as he pulled the fluffy cotton to his face, buried his face in it, and then reached behind him to towel dry his hair with one muscled arm as he arched backwards, giving her a first class view of his chiseled abs, and more.
Buy Link for Angel
Sharon's special love is writing hot Navy SEAL stories, which have won her some contest kudos.

She writes from close personal family experience with authenticity only a family member would know. It is her way of saying thank you to the men and women who put their lives on the line so we can do all the crazy things we do everyday.
Agented, Sharon is looking for the right outlet for her work.
Blog: http://sharonhamiltonauthor.blogspot.com

Email:
sharonhamilton2001@gmail.com
Sharon also writes under the pen name of Angela Love. She has two fun, erotic short stories out.
and

Guest: Danielle Monsch + Book Giveaway!
I got ‘The Call’ (or its epub equivalent, the email) on a snowy morning. 
My husband and I had been fighting, I’m sorry to say – nothing horrible, just general snippiness.  Nonetheless, I wasn’t in a great mood.  We were debating whether to send my daughter to preschool.  Snow in our area has a way of bringing everything to a screeching standstill, and I didn’t want to chance her being stuck at school because of crappy roads keeping me away.
We eventually decided the child should go, so out my husband and daughter went into the cold morning.  After waving my goodbye and locking the door, I went over and fired up the computer, putting on the tea kettle as everything booted up.
Going back to the computer, as is my habit, I looked at my email first.
Now, I was expecting a message from Liquid Silver.  They had asked me for a revise and resubmit on Loving a Fairy Godmother, so I knew they had to eventually tell me yes or no.  But with me still a little irritated over the fight, it took me a second to realize the email from Liquid Silver was THE EMAIL, the one that would let me know if I could call myself a published author yet, or still needed to wait a little while.
I opened up that email, the first three words were “We are pleased…” and I knew I had been accepted, I was going to have a story published.
A squee did indeed leave my lips, and my first thought is I wanted to tell hubby.  I ran for the door just in time to see the car U-turn and make its way down our street.  In bare feet, I did take a few steps on a very cold, snow covered sidewalk, waving my arms in the air, hoping hubby would see me from one of the mirrors, but that was not to be.
I went back in the house and gave him a call on his cell.  However, it seems the weather must have been screwing with phone reception, because the call was very static-y.  I eventually yelled in the receiver for him to call me once he got to work.
The following forty minutes was tough.  I wanted to tell everyone, but I wanted my hubby to know first, so I had to sit on my hands and wait for him to call me.  My stomach was jumping; I kept putting my arms around my middle to try to calm it down.
Finally I got my hubby’s call.  Because of our earlier fight his voice was not the friendliest, but as soon as I told him, he emitted the manly version of a squeal and he started to congratulate me, which in turn made me start hyperventilating, because hearing his happiness cemented it in my mind that this was real, and I was going to be a published author.
All in all, not how I envisioned my first ever ‘call’, but I’ll take it.  It was messy and unpredictable, but it was real, it was my life.
However I got the ‘call’, I’m just grateful I got it.

LOVING A FAIRY GODMOTHER


Tiernan is one of a kind. Beyond the divine dimples, killer blue eyes, and hard muscled body, Tiernan is also the only Fairy Godfather. Most of the Fairy Godmothers have no problem with keeping Tiernan around, but Reina isn’t like most Fairy Godmothers.

Amongst Fairy Godmothers, Reina is the best. Organized, efficient, logical. So why is it when Tiernan is around, all those qualities fly out the window? Reina doesn’t like that one infuriating male makes her lose control, and just wants him gone. Circumstances arise that just might let her get her wish, though not in a way she ever wanted.

Tiernan is given an assignment and told either get a Happily Ever After or he will no longer be a Fairy Godfather. Reina is going with him to supervise, but if Tiernan gets his way, he’ll not only be supervising that luscious stubborn fairy in bed, but also get her to admit Happily Ever Afters also apply to Fairy Godmothers.



Excerpt:

“Godfather Tiernan—”

“You can just call me Tiernan,” he interrupted.

She tried again. “Godfather Tiernan—”

“”Didn’t Sara just tell you that you had to follow my directions?”

That pushed her over the edge. “Do you truly think you are going to secure a HEA when you haven’t been able to do it yet?”

He let out a derisive snort, but immediately realized that was a huge mistake. Her face lost her usual look of annoyance crossed with bemused tolerance, leaving pure ice in its place. “This is why men should not be allowed into the Godmother program. None of you have any respect for Happily Ever Afters.”

“I never said I didn’t believe in HEAs” he began, but she cut him off.

“Every case you’ve been on tells me you don’t believe, or else you would have tried once, just once, to get one!”

His hands slammed on the table as he leaned across it, his face coming inches from hers. “I’ve never tried because I believe in love! Humans need love so much, who the hell was I to screw up two people in love to get them to HEA status? I could never forgive myself if two people in love missed out on each other because of my actions!”

All anger fled her face, and a hesitant, unsure look came over features. “What do you think a HEA is?”

He drew in a deep breath, sitting down once again. “I think happily ever after is a nice way to end a story, but in the world I remember, it’s a waste.”

Her hand was halfway towards him before she seemed to remember their roles, and she pulled it back to her side. “Love is wonderful, but only love alone is incomplete. You can love someone, but they can ultimately not be right for you. Even in love, people can still be led to believe the worst of each other, still hurt each other, still decide they are better without the other,” she began, her words hesitant, as if she was trying to define to herself what it all meant as much as to him. “But the Happily Ever After is so much more. It’s finding your perfect match, love purified, refined, to such an extent that it can never be sundered. With a Happily Ever After, men can achieve greatness, as can all the generations who follow growing up in its shadow.”

“And you think jeopardizing the surety of a love match now is worth it for only the possibility of a Happily Ever After?” he asked, his voice gentle, reverent, wanting nothing to break this intimacy their words were creating.

“I do. In your view, maybe that seems cruel, but in my view, there is no greater tragedy then two people who almost make this connection but fall short in the end.”

Such a hard exterior to cover such a tender heart. “I’m not sure if I can believe as you do,” he said after considering her words. “But I never want Sara... you... to feel as if I let you down. After we get this situation behind us, I want you proud of the job I do.”

And as his breath caught at the rare smile she bestowed upon him just then, he knew all she had to do was keep smiling at him like that, and anything she wanted, whether it be his beliefs or his blood, he would give her.

Her smile faded, and the moment ended. Reina cloaked herself in her position of authority as she handed him the file that had been sitting on her desk. It was already open to show a picture of a blond girl, pretty and vibrant with a mouth full of straight white teeth, all of which was evident even underneath the dirt. “I looked over this case earlier, before I realized what was going on,” she said. “It is a good, solid HEA case. There are several challenges to overcome, but also several sources of help for the client. It is about as perfect as a case can be for this purpose, as evenly balanced as I’ve ever seen. No one can accuse the council of favoring either side. The girl’s name is Cinderella. She lives with an abusive Stepmother and two rotten spoiled stepsisters. She is a very kind, generous girl—though a little too much of a doormat, if you ask me—but outside of that, not really any other character flaws. She is much beloved in her village, children and small animals flock to her daily. In short, we exist to give HEAs to mortals like her.”

Tiernan read the file quickly, then flipped the page and took in the photo of the male who would supply the HEA. “A prince, huh? That’s pretty standard.”

“Indeed, but for the most part, we don’t mess with the classics here.” The pointed look she gave him told him he was one of the exceptions, and she wasn’t necessarily thrilled about it. Ah yes, completely back to normal.

He returned that look with a flirty smile. “I used to serve royalty, Godmother Reina. Believe me when I say, sometimes the large crown is to compensate for something.”

“Oh really? Well, I assume we can say the same thing about your sword, eh, knight?”

Maybe not completely back to normal after all. The second those words passed her lips her eyes went saucer wide, and Tiernan couldn’t say who was more shocked, him or Reina herself. There was no way he was letting this pass. His voice coming out a low growl, he replied, “Why, Reina, I never knew you were interested in the size of my sword. Anytime you want a private viewing, I will be more than happy to oblige.”


Danielle Monsch is a Romantic Geek Girl Writing in a Fantasy World. Her debut story, Loving a Fairy Godmother, is available now at Liquid Silver Books.

You can find her on the web at www.DanielleMonsch.com, www.twitter.com/DaniMonsch, www.facebook.com/DanielleMonsch



One random commenter will win a copy of Loving a Fairy Godmother.  Good luck!
New Release: Storm of Passion
I have released a new contemporary erotic romance short story called Storm of Passion!

Seth Forester has wanted Lori Hollingsworth from the first moment he saw her in that hot pink bikini two years ago. And it’s no secret that Lori has a crush on Seth. The scorching kiss she gave him at a party a few months ago confirmed it. But if he gives into his urges and pursues her, he could lose his hard-won career. Lori is the boss’s daughter, and Seth has already been warned to stay away from her.

When Seth finds Lori upset after a date gone wrong, and a thunderstorm fast approaching, he has little choice but to take her to his condo. Though they’re both drenched to the skin, their attraction heats up like the lightning outside. No matter if his boss kicks him to the curb, Seth can no longer resist Lori. It’s not just her body he wants, but her heart.

Read an excerpt!


The Kindle version is available at Amazon and other formats are available at Smashwords.

Thanks!
Nicole
www.nicolenorth.com
Guest Interview: Trixie Stilletto
I'm so happy to welcome a longtime (I won't say "old" LOL) friend of mine, Trixie Stilletto, to visit with our Fierce Romance readers.

Trixie, please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I write erotic romance with a kiss of humor and currently have books out with Amber Quill Press and Phaze. I write non-erotic romance as Karen Troxel and have five romance novels available as well.


You have so many hot, funny stories out there. Tell us about your latest release.

I have two erotic romances I’d like to talk about. One is a contemporary comedy called “The Peter Heater” about a yarn shop owner and a millionaire.
Priscilla Destiny has nearly given up on her business. Sales have been slow, making for another miserable Christmas. Then she crashes her car into the barn of a remote mountain cabin. On Christmas Eve. Things couldn't possibly get any worse. Or can they?

Losing a million dollars has shaken more than Peter Chance's confidence. He trusted someone and look where it got him—alone in the Carolina mountains with a serious problem on his hands. "Erectile dysfunction" used to be a term he occasionally heard on late-night TV. Now those two little words have become his physical reality. That is, until curvy Priscilla crashes into his barn. Just looking at her tennis shoes gets him excited, and things start looking up...and up...and up.

Priscilla's stuck with a gorgeous guy who can't seal the deal, but she's not going to let another Christmas disaster stop her from taking control of her life. After all, she's great with her hands. When it comes to knitting, that is. And she's about to prove to Peter that a well-spun yarn can heat up more than his lonely little cabin...

I also have sci-fi , romantic comedy called “The Martian Affair” about a hunky space cop, a BBW trying to find her way and a colony on Mars with a skin tone problem and a habit of kidnapping women to be their wives.

The Universe may be different in 3535, but Stella Bright is just a big, beautiful young woman trying to find her place in it. Although rogue interstellar cop Indiana Jameson didn't ask her nicely, going with him to Mars and helping him solve a case seems right up her alley. Except there's more to Indy than just business...

Indiana is working way off the ISP books because this case is personal. He's certain he can control the situation if he can just keep his mind on the job and off Stella's tempting mouth and luscious body.

It's a tough assignment, but Stella's mother always told her not to judge a planet by its privates. A man, on the other hand... 



You like to write humor into your stories, but do you have any funny stories about your road to publication?

Well, there’s the story on how I chose my pen name. Natasha Moore, me, and eight of our closest friends, were riding the train from Buffalo to Manhattan for a romance writer conference just after I signed my first contract for an erotic romance short story. I said to my friends that I really couldn’t write under my name (Karen Troxel) because my mother would never forgive me. We started brainstorming possible names for me. Someone said Trixie and we took a poll of the other passengers (a large number of them men) who seemed to really like the idea of a Trixie. So, Trixie I became. Much later I learned that women like the name too. Except it seems a large number of them own toy dogs and Trixie is apparently the name of choice So, whenever I’m walking down the street now and I hear my name, I never know if it’s someone calling me or their Schnoodle to dinner.

LOL! What element of story creation is your favorite? (Character? Setting? Plot? Etc.) Why?

I like characters. They always come to me first and then I worry about setting and plot. Romance, above all else, is the story of two people meeting, falling and love and hoping for the forever after. The rest is just extra.


You write some very unique characters. What would your readers be surprised to find out about you?

That I’m a bad photographer but I love to bore people with my travel pictures.

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

Right now, I think I would like to be the character in the story I just finished. Brenda Morrelli, who has found her way back from some troubles and started a new life in Montana. (It’s been a hot summer in Tennessee, so I think being in the cool mountains of Montana sounds pretty darn good about now.


You should come back to western New York LOL! Most people think a writer’s life is really glamorous. What’s the least glamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Other than clean up after my pets (a beagle who thinks she is a diva and a kitten who thinks he’s Spiderman)? Basically I’m boring. I run errands, cook, try to watch my weight, exercise occasionally and write stories that would probably get me put in a padded room if I lived in another era. Since I don’t, I just hunker down in my little cave and play make-believe.

I'm glad you're writing more stories. What can we look forward to from you in the future?

Well, I just finished Brenda’s story, titled “Saddling Brenda”. I’m also working on a new piece that features a klutzy photojournalist and a hunky athlete. After that, well, we’ll just have to see…

Where can our readers find out more about you?

If you dare, you can find me at http://www.trixiestilletto.com. I also hang out with a fine group of writers at http://www.servantsofthemuse.com . If you’re really brave you can visit my travel blog (http://thetravelingbabe.com) and see some of those bad photos I’m talking about.

Do you have anything you’d like to ask our readers?

How do you like your love? With laughter or without?
Guest Author: Gemma Halliday

Thanks so much to the Fierce Romance ladies for letting me crash their blog today. I totally dig these authors, so I’m thrilled to be here!

My Hollywood Confessions Blog Tour still has a few stops left, so please check out my website for links. I’ll be giving away more prizes at each stop! (Including gift cards, free books, cameo appearances, and Hollywood Headlines collectibles!)


Hollywood Confessions explores the sexy, scandalous, and sensational world of Hollywood through the eyes of tabloid reporter, Allie Quick. Allie has high aspirations - much higher than reporting on the latest celebrity gossip for the L.A. Informer, Hollywood's most notorious tabloid. But if she's going to join the ranks of the real reporters, she's going to need a headline worthy story under her belt. Luckily, she gets just that when the producer of the trashiest reality shows on TV winds up murdered, and Allie convinces her editor, Felix Dunn, that this story has her name written all over it. Between an aging dance-off judge, a family with sextuplets and triplets, and the star of a little person dating show, Allie has no shortage of reality stars to question. But when she finds herself falling for her prime suspect, Allie's relationship with her editor is suddenly on the rocks, and her life is in danger. This is one deadline Allie can't afford to miss!

One of my biggest challenges with this book was creating a likeable heroine in Allie. This is the 3rd book in my Hollywood Headlines series, each one focusing on a different fab female reporter at the L.A. Informer. In the first book HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS, Allie was a minor character, brand new at the paper, and not the heroine, Tina’s, favorite person. In fact, I think Tina refers to her as Annoying Barbie, Blondie, The New Chick, and a bunch of other words I can’t repeat in polite company. Basically, Tina thinks Allie only got her job because their editor is a sucker for blondes in short skirts and tight tops. And she’s not happy about it.

In book #2, HOLLYWOOD SECRETS, the heroine is Cameron Dakota, the paper’s photographer. And her opinion of Allie isn’t a whole lot better than Tina’s. Cam thinks Allie is a bit nosey, a bit sneaky, and will do just about anything to get a story. And she’s pretty sure that Allie is sleeping with the boss.

So, when I sat down to write book #3 I was both excited to finally let readers see things from Allie’s point of view, but also a little nervous. Even my own mother said, “You’re writing about Allie? Why? We hate her.”

But, personally, I felt sorry for Allie. See, while she dreams of joining the ranks of the Diane Sawyers of the world, Allie’s relegated to the TMZ beat, reporting on teen-ebrities’ latest designer Chihuahua purses. Not really fair, considering she graduated at the top of her class from UCLA’s journalism school. And while her lack of experience might be one factor in the journalism world not taking her seriously, the bigger factor lies in three little numbers – 36,26,36. A California blond bombshell, she has a hard time getting anyone to see past her looks – even though her I.Q. is an even more impressive number than her measurements. Somehow the old boys club of serious journalists isn’t clamoring to let her pink-wearing self into their ranks. And neither are the other girls. The truth is, Tina and Cam never really gave Allie a chance. As Allie puts it, “, it would have been nice to have someone show me the ropes—or at least where the ladies’ restroom was.”

But Allie’s a fighter. She is determined to make it in the journalism world, on her own if need be. She has nothing against the other girls at the paper, but if they want to play rough, she can wrestle a story down with the best of them – even in her hot heels and pink skirts. ;) (Oh, and as far as sleeping with the boss goes… well, let’s just say it’s complicated.)

While she was a bit of a challenge, I honestly think that Allie is one of my favorite heroines I’ve written so far. And I hope people enjoy her story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Hollywood Confessions is available now in both print and ebook! And since this is the 3rd book in the Hollywood Headlines series, today I’m giving away an Amazon.com or BN.com gift card (winner’s choice) worth $15 so that one lucky winner can either download the first two books in the series (priced at $.99 and $3.99), or purchase the first book in print (priced at $12.99). All you have to do to enter is post a comment below about one of YOUR favorite heroines. I’ll pick a winner at the end of the day and post her/his name at the end of the comments!

Happy reading!

~Gemma Halliday
http://www.gemmahalliday.com
HOLLYWOOD CONFESSIONS
available now in:
Paperback Print
Kindle
Nook
Ebook
It’s Officially Summer in the Bishop Household

Can I just say how much I am looking forward to summer this year? No homework, no schedules, no early bedtimes, no early rising. Just go with the flow. Oh yes, I’m looking forward to the next ten weeks.

I think the only major drawback will be the noise level in the house. I’ve gotten used to working in silence, with maybe some music. But excited kids playing video games or chasing each other around the house squealing at the top of their lungs? Yeah, no. Noise level increase normally doesn’t happen around here until around three everyday. So that will take some getting used to.

Today, I plan to take the kids to the park for a bit, AND it won’t be miserable. I don’t know what it’s been like where you live, but we’ve been kissing the 100 degree mark since early May, even for the south that is unheard of. Today it’s in the 80’s, with no humidity. Hallelujah! But before I can get us out of this house, I have to finish copy-edits that need to be turned in today. Kids are patiently playing Lego Star Wars on the Playstation (can I just say how much I hate this game—it’s not the games fault. It’s a really great game that the kids have played for SIX. STRAIGHT. WEEKS.) Can we play some Mario Brothers please? I’m so tired of being Chewbacca. I’m also tired of hearing of the creatures make a maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa every time they hit it with a light saber. I swear the thing is on every level.

So anyone have anything exciting planned this summer?

Esme

Five Gold Crowns and Recommended Read for Kilted Lover
I had to share this amazing new review for Kilted Lover from The Readers Roundtable.


Summary:
When kilted cabertosser Scott MacPherson tosses Leslie Livingston over his shoulder to rescue her from two armed thieves trying to steal her priceless amulet, they are thrust into a deadly but sexy adventure. Though Leslie already has a lukewarm, uninterested boyfriend, her attraction to Scott is whitehot and undeniable. She wants to lick this tall, muscular alpha male all over and explore the depths of eroticism with him. But will he want anything more than one night once the danger is behind them?
Beth’s Review:
Does it get any better than a handsome hero that not only comes to your rescue, but tosses you over his shoulder and hauls you off like a caveman?…and he’s actually wearing a kilt? Ooh, that’s just scrumptious!
Leslie’s boring boyfriend goes golfing and leaves Leslie to contend with a couple thieves trying to steal her amulet. Too late, she realizes their intent, and the fact that they’re armed. Handsome, kilt-wearing Scott comes to her rescue, tosses her over his shoulder and hauls her off to his truck, Leslie kicking and screaming all the way. What a way to add a spark to an instant attraction!
Kilted Lover quickly becomes very erotic when Leslie and Scott find themselves in a docked boat with extremely close quarters and a couple dozen condoms. Add in a couple of exhibitionist neighbors and the sexual tension explodes into a sexual awakening for Leslie and Scott. There’s quite a bit of sizzling-hot sex and if you’re anything like me, you just may need to turn on your air-conditioning to cool you off (yowza!)
I was delighted with Kilted Lover and I highly recommend it!
Rated 5 Gold Crowns and a Recommended Read by Beth!
Yay! Thanks so much, Beth!! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it!
Nicole 

Let's Talk Conflict
Without conflict, there is no story. It doesn't get any simpler than this. As someone who avoids conflict in real life, sometimes it's not that easy to throw trouble in my characters' way. After all, I love my characters. I introduced them to each other. I want them to get their happily-ever-after ending.

But a boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl story would not only be short, it would be a little boring as well. And we never want to bore our readers.

There are two kinds of conflict (obstacles to your characters goals and desires): External and Internal.

External conflicts are obstacles over which the characters have no control, but which affects their lives and the decisions they make. The heroine who is a suspect in the hero's murder case. The father who doesnt think the hero is good enough for his little girl. The hero who is a Union soldier and the heroine is a Rebel spy. External conflicts moves the plot along.

Internal conflicts are emotional and are a product of the character's background and personality and experiences. In order for them to be resolved, the character needs to learn something about themselves and/or each other. In the character driven stories that I write, the internal conflict is what drives the story. It's the main conflict in the stories that I write, the last to be resolved. Everything else is complication.

In the story I've just started, the heroine is newly divorced, her children have left home and she's embracing an independence she's enjoying for the first time in her life. Then she begins to fall for the hero, at a time when she doesn't want a man in her life, so she wants to take things really slow. The hero's wife died a few years ago and so when he falls for the heroine, he doesn't want to waste any time, because he knows how precious time is. Conflict!

I'll have to let you know how it all works out, but you can be sure these two will end up perfect for each other, even if life isn't always perfect.

I love stories where the character's change because of each other, where dealing with the conflicts, in the end, is simply a way to grow and to show their love for each other. And when I see characters strive to make things work out, then I cheer them on, and I believe in that happily-ever-after ending.

Natasha
www.natashamoore.com
The Best Candy -- And No Calories
I'll admit to an intense craving for chocolate more often than not, but when it comes to the ultimate candy passion, eye candy is the best. No calories. Only pure viewing satisfaction and always good for stimulating my creativity.

My favorite eye candy and hero has always been the cowboy. What's not to adore when reading and writing those salt-of-the-earth guys who go the distance, and when the dust settles at the rodeo or ranch, a cowboy has holds his loved ones in strong arms and inside a steady heart.





Talk about hot? Who wants this brave and perfect hero to put out your "fire" but, instead, hopes he generates lots of heat between the sheets?





Of all the dream destinations in the world, I'd bask in the precious moments of a fantasy-filled escape, sipping a bit of vino while studying all of the scenery in Rome or Venice. Gorgeous fountains and architectural feats might surround me, but my interest would most be piqued at the passing of a handsome Italian man.





Last, but certainly not least on my list of eye candy, is Kiefer. Watching this man for 24 hours, whether on t.v. or in person, would be a pleasure never to be forgotten.




Wishing you many happy reading moments,

Shawna Moore
TO HELLE AND BACK AGAIN -- Ellora's Cave
TORMENTED -- Ellora's Cave
ROUGHRIDER -- Ellora's Cave
HELLE IN HEELS -- Ellora's Cave
Guest: Annie Rayburn's Eye Candy Inspiration & Book Giveaway!
Annie Rayburn is no stranger to the oddities of the writing life. Perhaps it was the hot Texas sun, or the long, lazy days of summer that fueled her vivid imagination. Whatever the muse, she grew up with scenes playing in her head and imaginary playmates taking over the show while she patted out mud cookies dotted with Chinaberries.
The stories she crafts today are decidedly more adult than the ones that involved Ken and Barbie. The scenes still play in her head, the characters argue with her right to craft their very existence, but she’s learned to harness their energies, showing them the way through the sensual haze to a love that will endure.
These days, Annie writes for Red Sage Publishing. Her first release with them is Bittersweet Obsessions, an erotic romance with sci-fi and paranormal elements.

When I heard that the Fierce Romance topic for this week was ‘eye candy’, I couldn’t resist showing off my inspiration for the guys in Bittersweet Obsessions. Yes, I said guys (plural) because Teriza, my heroine in Bittersweet Obsessions, is surrounded by hunky guys. (lucky girl!)
The first man we meet in Bittersweet Obsessions is Teriza’s ill-matched life-mate, Deacon. An ambitious landscape designer, Deacon was inspired by model Brett Hollands. Maybe it was simply the plaid shirt Brett’s wearing in this picture, but I knew immediately he was Deacon.
The next hunk to show up in Teriza’s life is her cousin, Brekke, who acts more like a big brother. For Brekke, I found the perfect likeness in Dean Cain.  Are you jealous of Teriza yet?
Teriza’s theraputic lover at a posh Swiss clinic is Klaus. Their first encounter involves a pool and a shower so when I saw this picture of Marcus Schenkenberg, I knew I’d found my Klaus. Yes, I like to think of him as a little bit of mine. (wink, wink)

And finally, Teriza’s love interest shows up. Paul is a Texan who describes himself as a “Clydesdale in a paddock full of racehorses.” I found my likeness for Paul in movie star, Clive Owen. He’s a bit more rugged than the pretty boys in her life, but he appeals to Teriza like no one else.

I’m totally jealous of Teriza! How about you?
***
One commenter will win a copy of Annie's ebook!
Please visit Annie online:
Twitter:  annie_rayburn
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